After a few weekends of poor tournament results it is really nice to get back to doing well at a Grand Prix, and I had that opportunity at Grand Prix Providence last weekend.

After the various Aetherworks Marvel decks were popular at the Pro Tour, I expected that deck to be played far less this past weekend. Any deck with Spell Queller in it is going to be an incredibly difficult matchup for the Aetherworks Marvel decks. White-Blue Flash was the most popular deck this weekend, and as expected Aetherworks Marvel strategies disappeared from the top tables.

Enter Black/Green Delirium. Black-Green Delirium has a rough Aetherworks Marvel matchup, but that is okay right now. In fact, outside of Aetherworks Marvel strategies and the most dedicated control decks I am happy with the matchups of Black-Green Delirium across the board. Delirium put up decent results at the Pro Tour, despite its worst matchup being a quarter of the field. The best answer to Spell Queller aggro is Ishkanah, Grafwidow.

In fact, Ishkanah, Grafwidow might be the single best card in Standard right now. The White-Blue Flash deck can't counter it, outside of perhaps a Summary Dismissal from the sideboard. Once the Spider Tokens hit play it becomes easy to hide behind them until Emrakul, the Promised End can clean things up. While most payers may see Emrakul, the Promised End as the most important card in the deck, Ishkanah, Grafwidow is what buys enough time to cast the big whammy. Here is the decklist which I finished in second place of Grand Prix Providence with:

A lot of the cards shouldn't come as much of a surprise. This deck can curve out in a way that even though it isn't actually an aggressive deck, life becomes incredibly difficult for the opponent. For instance, starting the game with a Grim Flayer or Liliana, the Last Hope can help put the opponent on the back foot. A lot of the time it is possible to force Grim Flayer through, and turn it into a four-power threat as early as the third turn. Grim Flayer is one of those cards that is incredible on the play and not as good on the draw.

Similarly, I like Liliana, the Last Hope a lot when it comes down on turn three. Versus control decks it is actually pretty easy to steal a win by playing her on three and going for the ultimate. A lot of the time Liliana, the Last Hope will immediately eat a one toughness creature. Over the course of the tournament I won every game where this sequence occurred. Killing an important aggressive threat while still having a Liliana, the Last Hope with four loyalty is pretty unfair. Luckily for Liliana, the Last Hope, the vehicles decks play a bunch of one toughness threats, and White-Blue Flash has Selfless Spirit and Rattlechains. Liliana, the Last Hope is a great card in the first game, but after sideboard opponents board out as many of their one toughness creatures as they can.

The deck needs a critical number of cards that mill yourself. If you can't get to delirium quickly, that is the easiest way to lose outside of mana screw. Grim Flayer, and Liliana the Last Hope fall into the category of conditional delirium enablers. Sometimes these cards leave play before their ability to mill is taken advantage of. There also need to be cards which their main role is putting cards in the graveyard. Vessel of Nascency is the perfect enabler because it provides the rare card type of enchantment while also finding a business spell. Vessel of Nascency is a card that realistically can enable delirium completely on its own.

Grapple with the Past plays a similar role to Vessel of Nascency, and at only a two mana investment it can return a key creature from the graveyard. Personally, I find between Vessel of Nascency and Grapple with the Past, five of those types of effects is enough. The key is hitting delirium while still having a bunch of interactive spells. Mindwrack Demon plays a bit of a different role, and is a card a lot of lists are neglecting right now. This card almost always ends up hitting delirium after its trigger, so very rarely does it cause you to lose life.

Mindwrack Demon isn't flashy, and it does get answered by one-for-one removal, but it does the small things which add up. Sometimes after you cast Mindwrack Demon on the play it stops the opponent from then casting their Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, without it getting immediately attacked in the air. Other times it is just another creature which can be recovered as needed by Liliana, the Last Hope.

The other four-drop is Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, which is just a good card in general. There will be spots where Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet takes over a game, but it isn't a creature that is especially synergistic with the delirium theme.

Having a wide variety of card types is important for both delirium and Emrakul, the Promised End. There are 16 creatures total, but three of them are artifacts. Pilgrim's Eye is not a powerful card, but it does a lot for this deck. Pilgrim's Eye going to the graveyard means two additional card types, rather than the typical one card type netted by other cards. Similar to Pilgrim's Eye, Noxious Gearhulk is an artifact creature. However instead of just finding a land, Noxious Gearhulk brings a very powerful ability worth the steep mana cost.

There is another Gearhulk which I have opted not to play, and that is Verdurous Gearhulk, a card I have seen a lot of other lists play to varying degrees of success. While Verdurous Gearhulk does speed up the clock, that is not what this version of Black/Green Delirium really cares about. We are mostly a controlling deck that wins once Emrakul, the Promised End is cast, and Verdurous Gearhulk doesn't help this plan. In addition, a lot of the times Verdurous Gearhulk puts counters on itself and then dies to a spot removal spell. This is why my five-drop of choice is Ishkanah, Grafwidow.

Almost every single game Black-Green Delirium wins involves making spiders with Ishkanah, Grafwidow. While it is a five-drop legendary creature I definitely advocate playing three copies of Ishkanah, Grafwidow. In the semifinals of Providence, in the final game I drew all three copies of Ishkanah Grafwidow, yet it worked to my advantage. Funnily enough the card which had carried me through the Grand Prix ended up being what killed me in the end.

Filling out the rest of the deck, we have removal spells to help stop early aggression and annoying flash threats. Grasp of Darkness remains a high quality removal spell for decks which can cast it. The other key spell which should definitely be seeing more play in general is Traverse the Ulvenwald. Being able to play singleton bullets is super nice. Having one Noxious Gearhulk and one Emrakul, the Promised End is perfect as we don't need to play additional maindeck expensive threats. Traverse the Ulvenwald can also find a land which contributes to getting away with only 23 lands total.

This is how I'm sideboarding for the major matchups.

White-Blue Flash

I did not drop a single game to White-Blue Flash at the Grand Prix. I don't think the Flash players realize how bad of a matchup it is for them. This is how I board for the matchup:

On the play:

-1 Murder
-2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
-1 Liliana, the Last Hope
-1 Dead Weight
-1 Grapple with the Past

+2 Natural State
+2 Transgress the Mind
+1 To the Slaughter
+1 Tireless Tracker

On the draw:

-2 Grim Flayer
-2 Liliana, the Last Hope
-1 Dead Weight
-1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
-1 Grapple with the Past

+2 Natural State
+3 Transgress the Mind
+1 To the Slaughter
+1 Tireless Tracker

There are many matchups where I will take out Liliana, the Last Hope and Grim Flayer more on the draw. When on the draw, games come down to being reactive and stopping Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. When the opponent successfully lands Gideon, Ally of Zendikar on the fourth turn on the play is when you need to worry. Transgress the Mind and To the Slaughter do help stop this from happening. The Flash player is likely to board in more Counterspells, and slow their deck down a bit. Selfess Spirit and Rattlechains often get boarded out. Be careful to play around Spell Queller when possible.

Vehicles/Copter Aggro

There are a few different Smuggler's Copter Aggro decks right now, but I am lumping them together. The sideboard plans are similar for each variant, as a lot of the cards overlap.

-1 Grapple with the Past
-1 Murder
-1 Vessel of Nascency
-1 Liliana, the Last Hope
-2 Grim Flayer
-1 Tireless Tracker

+2 Natural State
+1 Appetite for the Unnatural
+2 Flaying Tendrils
+1 Dead Weight
+1 To the Slaughter

Most of the time, if you survive the initial onslaught that will be enough to win. The opponent may try to take out one-toughness creatures, but that means that their deck becomes slower. We want cheap and efficient removal to survive early. This is an overall plan but it is possible adjustments will need to be made based on the opponents build. I like these matchups in general from the Black/Green Delirium side, but game one is play/draw dependent.

Blue Control

Blue Control decks were the story of Pro Tour Kaladesh, but still aren't a huge piece of the metagame. These decks aren't easy for Black-Green Delirium, but they are manageable. Every deck should have a plan to go long, and I like the Black-Green Delirium side after board. These sideboard notes are based on the Jeskai Flash and Grixis Control matchups.

-4 Grasp of Darkness
-1 Dead Weight
-2 Grim Flayer
-1 Murder
-2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

+3 Transgress the Mind
+2 Pick the Brain
+1 To the Slaughter
+ 1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
+1 Emrakul, the Promised End
+1 Tireless Tracker
+1 To the Slaughter

After sideboard we get to take out a lot of removal in exchange for proactive disruption like discard spells. We also get more card advantage with another Tireless Tracker. The second Emrakul, the Promised End does come in because we are afraid of the first one getting hit by Summary Dismissal. Games tend to go long so Emrakul, the Promised End can be a major player.

The Mirror

After the recent success of Black-Green Delirium the deck could become even more popular. Two out of three of my Top 8 matches in Providence were mirror matches. This is definitely a matchup worth being ready for.

On the draw:

-2 Grim Flayer
-2 Liliana, the Last Hope
-1 Dead Weight
-2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
-1 Murder

+3 Transgress the Mind
+1 Emrakul, the Promised End
+1 Tireless Tracker
+2 Pick the Brain
+1 To the Slaughter

On the play:

-2 Grasp of Darkness
-1 Grapple with the Past
-1 Liliana, the Last Hope
-1 Dead Weight
-2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
-1 Murder

+3 Transgress the Mind
+1 Emrakul, the Promised End
+1 Tireless Tracker
+2 Pick the Brain
+1 To the Slaughter

Most games in the mirror go long so Emrakul, the Promised End is very important. Being able to remove an opponent's Emrakul, the Promised End with a discard effect can be a game changer. The other plans of attack involve planeswalkers or Ishkanah, Grafwidow drains, which I know from firsthand experience.

Thanks for reading,

Seth Manfield